Friday, April 6, 2012

Welcome to the Slaughterhouse!: Mandatory Spay/ Neuter Laws!

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." George Washington

Welcome to the Slaughterhouse, America!!

By Nicholas Meyeres

The idea of a mandatory spay/neuter pet law is a supremely poor idea in my mind. In fact, mandating much of anything makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. After all, enjoying true freedom, without absolute control of one's own property (as long as we do no harm to others), is not possible in this country. Our United States Constitution is clear on that.

If we as a Nation by virtue of our very liberties advocate individual freedom and consistently oppose the initiation of coercion by anyone upon an individual or their property for any reason, then we need to uphold those things that we even disagree with. Besides, as Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” I personally believe in spay/ neuter programs 100% as the most effective means to lessen the surplus pet population and help keep animals in their homes. I advocate for spay/neuter every chance I get, but I recognize that initiating legislation that forces individuals to care for their animals a certain way is never the answer.

As a person who supports the rational principle of the individual human rights of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness of every American, I simply can’t abide by this sort of law. I feel that each individual has the right to keep what he earns for himself and his family, and this includes the right to use, trade, sell, give away, or dispose of his property as he sees fit as long as none of these actions are abusive. And whether we like it or not, our pets are considered property in this country currently.

Besides: the basic, proper function of lawful government is limited to protecting these rights of the peaceful individual from criminals and foreign aggression, and in not violating these rights itself. For if government is allowed to go beyond this legitimate function and itself initiates force in violation of the rights of peaceful citizens, it contradicts the only rational justification for its own existence by acting criminally itself.

Having said all of that, although spaying and neutering our pets helps control dog and cat populations and generally helps them live longer lives and to be better companions to their owners- mandatory approaches nearly always contribute to pet owners avoiding licensing, rabies vaccination and veterinary care for their pets, and have many other unintended consequences as yet unnoticed. Therefore, I do not personally support mandatory spay/neuter laws or any other type of legislation that is punitive to otherwise law abiding pet owners no matter how often I tell people that spaying or neutering their pets is the best way to go.

But don’t just take my word for it. There are many areas that have tried to enact varying degrees of this type of legislation to disastrous results across the country. The City of Los Angeles in 2000 for instance developed a ”spay or pay” ordinance which immediately led to a decline in licensing compliance, and the animal control budget after passage of the law rose 269% from $6.7 million to $18 million. Fort Worth, TX was even forced to end its mandatory spay/neuter program after there was a reduction in rabies vaccinations which lead to an increase in rabies in the city. Then, in San Mateo California a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance was enacted and dog deaths in the areas governed by the ordinance increased 126% and cat deaths increased by 86%. Not surprisingly those numbers decreased in parts of the county not governed by ordinances similar to these ones. And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.

Even Best Friends Animal Society as an organization takes issue with the implementation of mandatory spay/ neuter laws for the most part. Judah Battista, the Director of Animal Care at Best Friends Animal Society said that a “better alternative to a mandatory spay-neuter ordinance would be to take the resources that would be devoted to enforcement and the subsequent housing of unaltered pets and using it to fund low-cost spay-neuter programs.” While Best Friends co-founder and the organization’s chief executive officer Gregory Castle said, “If your mandate insists people get their animals fixed, but doesn’t make any provision to help them do it, it doesn’t make any sense.”

The bottom line is if you don't have the finances to spay or neuter your household pet, then under mandatory spay/neuter pet laws you would have to surrender your pet to high kill shelters. And here in Kanab, Best Friends (while being a no-kill shelter) can take only so many of the community’s unwanted and abandoned pets. That is why I support ONLY voluntary, affordable spay/neuter programs for owned pets, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs for feral cats and maybe even sterilization of shelter animals and certain individual, owned animals based on their or their owners’ behavior (such as animals repeatedly caught at-large).

No one will ever be completely satisfied with the final word of any political legislation, but if we adhere to our Nation’s founding document, and our own sound and rational minds we can always come up with solutions to problems no matter how great or how small they may seem.

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